This week I'd like to inform you about the progress made in regard to the licensing procedure of ITER. The documents that form the legal basis for our construction permit, the so-called DAC files (Demande d'Autorisation de Création), were submitted to the Nuclear Regulator in March this year. We are now waiting for the official advice on the files.
On 4 October, I took the initiative to meet the Chairman of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), André-Claude Lacoste, at the ASN Headquarters in Paris. I explained the new structure of the Organization which is now more centralized in order to increase its efficiency. I underlined the fact that safety issues remain the highest priority for the new management which is highlighted by the fact that - despite downsizing the number of departments within the ITER Organization - the Safety Department, together with the ITER Project Department and the Department of Administration, will be one of the three departments remaining. I explained to Mr. Lacoste that our intensive efforts to simplify procedures and to reduce the overall cost of the project will not compromise safety in any way.
The next step in the licensing process will now be the Public Enquiry. As soon as we receive the official "go" on our DAC file from the relevant authorities, the floor will be open to the public to inquire about ITER and its environmental and safety aspects. This is most likely to happen around the end of the year.
The Local Information Commission (CLI) - a panel established in 2009 and composed of elected members to official institutions, international experts, representatives from local communities, environmental groups, trade unions, businesses and health professionals - is an important tutorial for the ITER Organization. It helps us to prepare ourselves for questions that might arise during the Public Enquiry.
During its third meeting held at the Château de Cadarache on 27 September, we presented the Preliminary Safety Report to the CLI. In addition Joëlle Elbez, leader of the Safety Design and Integration Section, gave a presentation on how safety issues have been integrated into the facility's design over the last three years. Following a new legal order that enables and requires the CLI to give advice on the content of the DAC files, a special working group was established to look, in particular, at the Impact Study in more detail. A special hot-line will be created to allow us to respond immediately to any question that might arise. For me it was a great opportunity to establish a good relationship with local communities and people.
The ITER machine will rely on a large and complex cryogenic system comprising the cryoplant, which will produce the required cooling power, and a cryodistribution system which will distribute the coolant. The cryogenic system will guarantee cooling and stable operation for ITER's magnets, its cryopumps and its thermal shields over a wide range of plasma scenarios.
The magnets operate at high magnetic fields to confine and stabilize the plasma and require cooling with supercritical helium at 4 K (-269 deg C). They will be surrounded by a large cylindrical cryostat and an actively-cooled silver-coated thermal shield with a forced flow of helium at 80 K. Large cryosorption panels cooled by 4 K supercritical helium are used to achieve the high pumping rates and vacuum levels.
The key design requirement of the ITER cryoplant is to cope with large dynamic heat loads deposited in the magnets due to magnetic field variation and neutron production from deuterium-tritium fusion reaction. At the same time, the system must be able to cope with the regular regeneration of the cryopumps.
Last week a team lead by Hans Quack, Professor for Refrigeration and Cryogenics at the Technical University Dresden, Germany, thoroughly reviewed the conceptual design of the cryoplant system. The cryoplant system will be installed in two buildings and an outdoor area. It is composed of helium and nitrogen refrigerators combined with an 80 K helium loop. Storage and recovery of the large helium inventory (24 t) is provided in warm and cold (4 K and 80 K) gaseous helium tanks.
Three helium refrigerators supply the required cooling power via an interconnection box providing the interface to the cryodistribution system and redundancy of operation between refrigerators during faulty scenarios. Two nitrogen refrigerators provide cooling power for the thermal shields and the 80 K pre-cooling of the helium refrigerators.
The reviewers could not identify any flaws in the design. The whole review panel was instead impressed of the amount of good work done and encouraged the cryogenics team to continue in the same direction. The approval and recommendation of the cryoplant conceptual design opens therefore the door to the procurement of the largest cryoplant system in the world. The Liquid Nitrogen Facility (LN2) and auxiliary systems will be procured by Europe, the Procurement Arrangement is expected to be signed in December this year. The Liquid Helium (LHe) plants will be directly procured by the ITER Organization with a call for tender issued during the first half of 2011.
The ITER Council Working Group on Export Control, Peaceful Uses and Non-Proliferation (ECWG) met for its fifth meeting on 6-7 October 2010. The meeting was hosted by the Japanese Domestic Agency and the Ministry for Science (MEXT) at the Miraiken National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan. The meeting was chaired by Mike Roberts and delegations representing the Members, the Domestic Agencies and the Export Control Authorities participated in the fruitful discussions.
The fifth ECWG meeting addressed the finalization of the lists of items that might be subject to Export Control established by both the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. The lists have all been drafted and should be available in the next few weeks. The ITER Organization will then start the work on harmonization of the lists. The next steps toward Peaceful Uses and Non-Proliferation were also discussed and a process for the implementation of the ITER Council policy was proposed.
Export Control perspectives on the Test Blanket Module (TBM) Program were discussed with the Chair of the TBM Program Committee (TBM PC), Satoshi Konishi. It was agreed that the ECWG delegations would speak with their respective TBM PC members on the Export Control issues associated with the TBM Program in advance of the upcoming TBM PC meeting in late October 2010. A discussion on the possible use of video conferencing came to the conclusion that this would provide a useful tool for specific subjects that can be discussed within a one-to-two hour time frame.
Finally, an overview of the training programs in the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies was given and it was agreed that coordination of such training and awareness programs would be pursued.
Tokamak Complex Excavation and Support Structure:
Ongoing rock blasting and excavation is continuing in the area of the future Tokamak Complex. The first phase of blasting is nearing completion.
Poloidal Field Coil Fabrication Building:
Concrete slab pours are continuing. In tandem, concurrent activities are progressing westwards along the building, including work on the column footing installation, concrete column reinforcement and cast-in-place concrete placement is continuing for the above-ground structure.
Permanent Iter Headquarters ('Annex Buildings'):
Concrete placement work has begun for the foundation at the west end of the building for the future permanent ITER Headquarters Buildings. Ground foundation anchors and other ground preparation works are continuing.
Authorization to access the on-platform water supply and on-platform electrical power has been achieved for use in one of the first major building construction contracts (PF Coil).
The Times has named Culham Centre for Fusion Energy's Director, Professor Steve Cowley, as one of the UK's most influential scientists.
Professor Cowley joins the likes of Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins in the Eureka 100 Science List, which according to The Times, aims to "identify the most important and interesting people in British science." Those on the list "are pushing back the boundaries of scientific understanding, transforming our lives through innovation and changing our attitudes to science, each other and the world."
Professor Cowley's profile states: "Cowley has shown an appreciation for fusing global talent as well as atomic nuclei...In his work as an advocate of fusion, Cowley has also provided a compelling argument for why government funding must increase if the race to provide carbon-free fuel is to be won in time."
The Eureka list was compiled with the help of heads of universities, research bodies, businesses, scientific societies and government institutions. The final selection was judged by a panel including William Waldegrave (Chairman of the Science Museum) and Evan Harris (former Liberal Democrat science spokesman and Oxford West & Abingdon MP).
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), near Abingdon, is one of the world's leading fusion energy research laboratories. It is home to the UK's fusion programme, most notably the MAST (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) experiment. It also hosts the world's largest fusion device, JET (Joint European Torus), which CCFE operates for its European partners under the European Fusion Development Agreement.
The research at Culham is developing nuclear fusion - the power that keeps the Sun burning - as a new, cleaner form of energy for use in future power stations.
Some forty-five years from now, after ITER has completed its scientific program and the installation has been dismantled, nothing will remain — except of course the project's legacy as the "largest international scientific collaboration" in the history of mankind.
With the living memory fading and the physical traces erased, the archived documents will be all that is left to explore the history of the project and render its evolution intelligible for future generations.
However far away, this future is being prepared today.
Already, the early ITER and "proto-ITER" paper documents that were produced in San Diego, Naka and Garching, some dating back to the mid-1970s, have been collected, inventoried, and safely stored in adapted temperature and hygrometric conditions — some 30 cubic metres of printed material, video tapes and floppy discs that lay in storage near the Riviera city of Nice.
Their inventory is now online and a scan of any of these million-plus documents can be ordered and delivered in the form of a PDF file in less than 24 hours.
As the day-to-day production of the Organization, now mainly digital, is being processed, converted into a dedicated format for long-term archiving (PDF/A) and stored in the "centralized repository" of the ITER Document Management (IDM) system, a plan is ongoing to preserve the information that never finds its way into printed matter.
"Since the Organization was established, important people have made important decisions," explains ITER Document Control Section Leader Daniele Parravicini. "Some of these people are already gone, some will soon be, and we think it is important to preserve the traces of their decision-making process, of their perceptions and emotions..."
A part of the recently-implemented Knowledge Preservation Plan aims at just that. Members of the Communication Team recently sat with former DG Kaname Ikeda and taped a long interview that shed interesting light on the tenure of ITER's first Director-General.
Once transcribed, this document will be made searchable and available to staff on the integrated computing platform in use at ITER, together with more multimedia material.
The same operation will be conducted with other key people who have left the Organization. As Parravicini puts it: "The Knowledge Preservation Plan will become a permanent fixture of ITER life."
"The feeling of history," he adds, "is rarely there at the beginning of an Organization..." People have to deal with the daily demands of their job and rarely place their actions in a 'historical' perspective.
The Knowledge Preservation Plan encompasses much more than interviewing ITER "old hands" when they leave the Organization.
An "integral part of the ITER Organization", the Plan follows the IAEA definition of knowledge management and knowledge preservation: it is "an integrated, systematic approach to identifying, acquiring, transforming, developing, disseminating, using, sharing, and preserving knowledge, relevant to achieving specified objectives; [it] helps an organization to gain insight and understanding from its own experience."
The "knowledge" that is preserved through such an approach is made of many things: know-how and technicity of course, but also feelings, memories, joys and pains. It is the memory of a living organization.
From the heights of Montgenèvre, close to the Italian border, to the wide expanses of the Plain of Avignon, the Durance River Valley stretches from northeast to southwest for some 350 kilometres.
An inroad of civilization in Roman times, it is now an essential link between the Alpine and Mediterranean parts of the Provence region.
The Durance River Valley is not an official administrative division. It is a "territory" however, that is united by history, geography, economy and culture.
The creation of CEA-Cadarache, in 1959, largely contributed to transforming the Valley's economy, which was then essentially rural.
Fifty years later, both the French administration and the local governments in Gap, Sisteron, Manosque and all the way down to Aix and Cavaillon, expect that ITER's impact will be no less decisive.
What is at stake here, as expressed by French Minister of Planning and Land Development Michel Mercier, is "to make ITER the driving force behind the development of this region."
The Minister came to Cadarache on Thursday 7 October to preside over the inauguration of the Groupement d'Intérêt Public (GIP), a structure that will aim at "implementing synergies" between the various administrative bodies, local governments and institutions that share authority over the Valley's territory.
The GIP's founding members and members of the Board are the eight local governments who contribute to the financing of the ITER project; the French State and CEA. As "associated members" the ITER Organization and F4E will take part in the GIP's activities and hold an advisory vote.
This structure, which the Minister defined as "transitory and flexible", is entrusted to create the "operational tools" that will "optimize the economic and technological benefits [from ITER]" and give concrete meaning to the "Valley of New Energies" that the Durance River Valley is destined to become.
Region President Michel Vauzelle, also present at the inauguration, insisted that this planned development should be "equitable and sustainable".
Recalling the efforts that were engaged by the local governments to host ITER in Cadarache, Maryse Joissains-Massini, the mayor of Aix-en-Provence and President of the Greater Aix Council, renewed her commitment to the project and stressed the importance of "being united beyond territorial jurisdictions and political rivalries."
This week the world fusion community is gathering in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, for the 23rd biennial Fusion Energy Conference organized by the IAEA and hosted by Korea's National Fusion Research Institute.
As the search for greener forms of electricity production intensifies, the pursuit of peaceful nuclear fusion has received growing attention in the scientific community. This year's Fusion Energy Conference brings together the largest group of physicists working in the field to date.
"For the world at large, fusion energy remains a distant dream but the large group of distinguished scientists gathering in Deajeon recently made important headway to move the dream closer to reality," said Werner Burkart, Head of the IAEA's Nuclear Sciences and Applications Department, who opened the Conference on behalf of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.
Read the interview "From Dream to Reality" with Werner Burkart
Between 20 and 22 August, over 55.000 music fans visited Lowlands, the Netherlands' largest music festival. On the floating LLowlab-stage, they found the Fusion Road Show, the fusion outreach activity of the Dutch plasma physics institute Rijnhuizen. Thousands of visitors participated in the experiments during the three-day festival and discovered fusion, the energy source of the future.
Science at Lowlands isn't new; the Lowlands University program has featured two short lectures by university professors a day for years. But the new LLowlab-stage is a first for Lowlands: three days long, visitors can see, experiment and discover new sustainable science and technology in this dedicated area. LLowlab features a hydrogen-kart built by Delft Technical University, a music stage powered entirely by solar-PV and by hydrogen fuel cells, and a sustainable energy quiz.
In LLowlab's dome-shaped Sustainable Playground, the Fusion Road Show was playing non-stop. Presenters Arian Visser and Gieljan de Vries used interactive experiments, movies of the sun and of fusion reactors, and live demonstrations to showcase the future of fusion energy. The stand drew thousands of visitors: "we really discovered that future energy production concerns our visitors," says Arian Visser: "some groups stayed for half an hour to talk about the details of fusion."
Is a 'difficult' topic like fusion fit to show to people who've just had a beer while listening to live music? "The beauty of the Fusion Road Show is that it's so accessible," explains Gieljan de Vries: "a levitating magnetic top, a compact fluorescent lamp or a plasma discharge in the microwave — people immediately become curious why you're showing them this. They come up with questions of their own, so you can really cater to what they find interesting about fusion."
The public relations officers are no strangers to science fairs, energy meetings, open house days or shows at secondary schools, but think that performing at Lowlands was unique. "People come here for the music, of course," say the duo. "And yet, they're happy to take the time to discover more about the topics at LLowlab. It's more than just seeing fun experiments and moving on. They want to know everything there is to know. Science is hot."
Read more here: www.lowlands.nl